SACRED HARP AT THE CAPITOL ROTUNDA
MUSICS OF ALABAMA:
At a Sacred Harp gathering, singers sit facing each other in a "hollow square," organized by the four voice parts: tenor (melody), bass, treble (soprano), and alto. They use oblong songbooks in which the notes are indicated by geometrically shaped symbols on a musical scale--fa, sol, la, mi. Singers vocalize the notes to the tune first, then proceed with the lyrical verses. Individual singers take turns selecting and leading songs. The singing is strong and loud, the singers singing more for each other (and for God) than for an audience. Participation and fellowship is the order of the day. The art of Sacred Harp singing is often taught at "singing schools." (See the Wiregrass Sacred Harp article for more on Sacred Harp history.)
Many singing conventions and singing schools take place throughout the year. One singing school is sponsored by the Alabama Center for Traditional Culture and is held every third Thursday in July and the Grange Hall in Old Town Alabama. The Capitol Rotunda Singing is sponsored by the Alabama State Council on the Arts and is held at the Capitol every Saturday before the first Sunday in February. (Erin Kellen)
"Sweet Rivers" Recorded by Steve Grauberger At the Montgomery State Capitol Rotunda Feb 1999. The song is sung from B.F. White Sacred Harp, either the Cooper edition or James\Denson edition, Page 61. Lyrics are by John Adam Granade (d.1807) with music by William Moore (d.1825)(originally from Wm. Moore's 1925 edition of Columbian Harmony. Both Moore and Granade lived in Wilson County, TN.
Thanks to the folks on the Fasola Discussions listserve for research notes.
Peter Ellertsen "American Folk Hymnody in Illinois, 1800-1850," read at the Conference on Illinois History, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, Springfield, 14 Oct. 2000.